When Boyd Rice rode into the herd at the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes in Fort Worth during the past weekend, the veteran rider knew what he had to do.
Rice, who is from Weatherford, and a stallion named Renegade Rey, had turned in a score of 217 during the first round of the 4-year-old open division. So, as Rice made his second-round run Saturday, he attempted to turn in score that would be close to his first-round marking.
After completing his 2 1/2-minute second-round run at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Rice and Renegade Rey were given a score of 216. That pushed their two-round aggregate score to 433, which was more than enough to advance to the semifinal.
The second round concluded Sunday night. A field of 61 horses, which scored at least 431.5, advanced to the semifinal.
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The semifinal is scheduled for Friday. The final round, which is the middle jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series, is Saturday.
“I was just trying to be real clean and not do all that much,” said Rice, using the term for a cutting horse run with no major errors. “That horse has a lot of eye appeal, so I didn’t need to do all that much to mark.”
While competing at the NCHA’s major aged events such as the Super Stakes, riders usually are more conservative throughout the first and second rounds and the semifinals. During those preliminary rounds, they are attempting to score just high enough to end up in the final, the only round that offers big prize money.
“If you go in there and you cut too aggressive and you go out, you feel pretty stupid,” Rice said of competing in the preliminary rounds. “So, you go in there and cut softer cattle and try to be real clean. If you have a horse that has a lot of eye appeal and you stay clean, you’re probably going to advance.”
During the final, where no previous scores count, riders tend to ask their horse to be more aggressive.
Rice has a proven track record for turning in high scores during the final. In 2009, Rice won the Super Stakes 4-year-old open division title aboard a remarkable stallion named Third Cutting after turning in a lofty final-round score of 230. A year later, Rice and Third Cutting tied for first in the Super Stakes’ 5- and 6-year-old open division after posting a 226 during the final.
A tough final
At the Tuff Hedeman Championship Challenge on Saturday, bull-riding fans witnessed three remarkable rides during the four-man final round at Cowtown Coliseum.
Corey Bailey clinched the title after turning in a 90.5, a half-point higher than Sage Kimzey, who finished second with a 90. Neil Holmes finished third with an 88.5. Cody Rostockyj was bucked off.
Hedeman, a four-time world champion from Morgan Mill, was impressed.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Hedeman said. “The guys made really, really good rides, and the bulls were phenomenal.”
After clinching the title, Bailey, who lives in Paris, Tenn., finished the Championship Bull Riding show with $10,500 in total earnings.